Pizza, spaghetti, soup, salad, sandwiches, french fries…
What do these foods all have in common? Tomatoes — or at least the potential for tomatoes. Whether this zesty fruit (that we treat more like a vegetable) is stuffed in your omelet, topping your sandwich, or pureed into the ketchup you’re dipping your fries in, tomatoes are everywhere.
But do IBS and tomatoes go together? Are tomatoes low FODMAP? Let’s dig into the world of tomatoes and find out.
Tomatoes have loads of nutritional benefits. They’re packed with vitamins and beneficial plant compounds. But, like many foods, if you’re sensitive to tomatoes they may not work well for you. And if you have IBS or SIBO, you’ll need to think through your tomato choices. But before we get into the nitty gritty of tomatoes and IBS, let’s look at some of the health benefits of tomatoes.
An essential nutrient and antioxidant, vitamin C can boost your immune function, heart health, eye sight, and even help you absorb more iron from the foods you eat.
Folate — Vitamin B9
Part of the family of B vitamins, folate promotes tissue growth and cell function, and is especially important for pregnant women.
An essential mineral, potassium is good for blood pressure control and helps prevent heart disease.
One of the important fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K helps with blood clotting and bone health.
An antioxidant the body converts into vitamin A, beta carotene gives many foods a yellow or orange color.
This powerful antioxidant may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
A powerful antioxidant, lycopene is known for many beneficial health effects. Lycopene is the compound that gives tomatoes their red color.
A flavonoid found in tomato skin, naringenin can decrease inflammation.
🍅 The lycopene in tomatoes shields against oxidative stress — including UV damage from the sun. Some research indicates lycopene could prevent sunburn, and possibly skin cancer. Lycopene also may lower the risk of breast, prostate, and lung cancer by potentially inhibiting cancer cell growth. Lycopene may also play a part in preventing cardiovascular disease.
🍅 Tomatoes may help diversify the gut microbiome, which can help with digestion, immune function, and more.
🍅 Tomatoes contain carotenoids that are beneficial for eye health and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin A in tomatoes is also good for eye health — reducing the risk of macular degeneration and preventing night blindness.
🍅 The vitamin C found in tomatoes reduces inflammation, supports immune function and collagen production, and helps protect against free radical damage that can lead to disease and aging.
It varies. I know, nothing seems simple on the low FODMAP diet. But with over 10,000 varieties and lots of ways to eat them, tomatoes can be both low FODMAP and high FODMAP.
So feel free to add chopped tomato to your salad or put some slices on your burger. While Monash University has tested a variety of fresh tomatoes, keep in mind that when it comes to produce, testing for FODMAPs is a little tricky. Ripeness, growing conditions, exact variety, and more can affect the FODMAP levels.
Monash University tests showed 75 g are low FODMAP.
Common Beefsteak Tomato
Original Monash lab testing showed no FODMAPs detected. More recent tests show ½ tomato, or 65 g is low FODMAP.
Roma (Plum) Tomato
Monash University’s initial lab tests showed 75 g are low FODMAP. But more recent testing lowered the low FODMAP amount to 48 g, which is about 2/3 of a small Roma tomato.
Tomatoes On The Vine
This one is a little sketchy. There are so many varieties of tomatoes “on the vine” that the lab results may not mean much. But according to testing, ½ tomato, or 69 g is low FODMAP.
FODMAP levels in cooked tomatoes tend to be higher than in raw. Just like how banana FODMAP levels vary with ripeness, tomato FODMAP levels vary depending on whether they’re cooked or processed. When tomatoes are canned, the fructose (a FODMAP) levels go up.
That means any tomato product that comes in a can, jar, bottle, or tube is likely higher in FODMAPs than a fresh tomato. For the most accurate FODMAP information about the specific tomato product you’re considering, I recommend getting a good FODMAP app. You can find my favorite (along with my other favorite IBS resources) in my free IBS Resource Guide.
Canned Tomatoes, Whole In Juice
Monash University tested these and found ½ cup or 100 g are low FODMAP.
The Fody brand of ketchup is low FODMAP at 17 g (just over 1 tablespoon). Conventional ketchup, which likely contains onion, is low FODMAP at 13 g (about 2 ½ teaspoons). So ketchup may not be the place to splurge on a more expensive low FODMAP brand. There’s not much difference.
Since many countries refer to ketchup as tomato sauce, it’s not entirely clear which one the Monash entry for tomato sauce is referring to. But Monash states that 13 g is low FODMAP.
According to Monash University, 28 g (about 2 tablespoons) are low FODMAP.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Semi
3 pieces or 8 g are considered low FODMAP.
Tomato Based Pasta Sauce with Garlic & Onion
Most commercial brands are high FODMAP. But it is possible to eat low FODMAP pasta and sauce.
Vegetable Based Tomato Juice (V8)
200 ml (between ¾ and 1 cup) is low FODMAP.
With the combination of onions, garlic, and cooked tomatoes, most commercial salsa is high FODMAP. But Fody foods sells salsa that is low FODMAP for 2 tablespoons. If a tiny serving of salsa isn’t enough for you, check the recipe section below for some homemade alternatives.
If you’re a fan of tomatoes, there is no shortage of wonderful low FODMAP tomato recipes. A google search will find most anything you’re looking for.
If you’re struggling with IBS or SIBO symptoms, I’m here to help. When we work together one-on-on, we’ll get to the root cause of your symptoms. Then we’ll develop a personalized plan that will get you feeling better without having to overhaul your life. You can book a consultation with me to see if we’re a good fit.
Many IBS and SIBO patients find that temporarily going on the low FODMAP diet can both relieve their symptoms and help them figure out exactly which foods trigger their flare-ups. If you need some practical support with your low FODMAP diet, I have just the thing.
I created the IBS Relief Blueprint to simplify the low FODMAP diet so it’s easier to stick to. This self-paced program will give you the easy-to-understand (and implement) information you need to get the most out of your low FODMAP diet.